Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Tieleman debates Loenen on STV - CKNW AM 980 at 8:30 a.m. Wednesday

I will be debating Nick Loenen of the Yes side for the Single Transferable Vote on Wednesday after the 8:30 news on The Bill Good Show on CKNW AM 980.

Hope you can tune in for a lively exchange!

And visit No STV's website for information on why you should vote No To STV on May 12.



Ken Bregman said...

Did anyone ever consider electoral reform introducing STV while retaining existing single member constituencies?


Are you completely happy with the FPTP two-party system, or would you like to see some kind of change?

While considering STV I realized how it might help me to vote and how it may help candidates to run the platform of their choice. I realized this could be achieved even in one member constituencies.

With STV I could risk voting for a party that may represent a particular issue close to my heart. However, realizing that this party may not yet or may never have broad enough support to win I could ask the tellers to transfer my vote to one of the mainstream parties.

The way this would help me and my cause would be as follows:
First I get to place my first vote for an issue that is important to me, and have it recorded as such. Second, if the government further adopts the Chretien formula and donates $3.00 per year per vote for every vote this party gets then I also make an annual donation to this party allowing it to grow, or at the very least allow it to continue to raise the issue that concerns me. Even a candidate who loses may be able to continue to be politically active full time if they gain as many as 10,000 votes giving them a considerable income.

Furthermore a losing runner-up candidate may very well continue to operate a constituency office. A green party member, to mention just one example, may continue to be active part time if he gained two thousand votes, to help pay for equipment, time off from work, or to travel and attend meetings, carry on research, or document activities.

The voter will no longer have to fear that voting for a minor party may mean that the mainstream party of his choice will lose. The candidate in turn will not have to fear that all his time and effort are wasted in case he loses. And third it can help a politician continue to develop his skill and knowledge of the economy and constituents even if he cannot make it into the legislature. Fourth, constituencies will remain sufficiently small to allow even small parties to get the attention of the constituents. And in extreme cases dissatisfaction with mainstream party candidates or parties can lead to the complete displacement of the party in some ridings with less risk.

Bill, how do you feel about STV with single member constituencies supplemented with a Chretien formula?

Bill Tieleman said...

Thanks Ken - I believe you what you are referring to is a preferential ballot - which was used in BC in 1952 and 1953.

I presume what you mean is that the winning candidate would need 50% plus one votes.

The Chretien formula is for public funding of political parties to reduce the influence of special interests, corporate or union donations etc.

I find much to favour public funding but there are some good arguments against it as well.

DPL said...

My gosh, how is it that the reps for STV seem more confused about how it works than some of the members of the origional Citizens Forum. As for party funding, well I figure it was brought in partly to get rid of huge corporate funding for folks they wanted to manage. The FPTP has issues but until the STV reps can sound more qualified on what they are saying, I suspect a lot of folks will just tune them out. The Forum folks tried out a few other systems and somehow ended up with the one that the yes side is attempting to sell.
and yes a few MP's and MLA's support the yes side. But most of us arn't MLA's or MP's. Heck a family friend sat on the Forum and her explanation of the system sure beats anything I've heard from the public figures trying to sell it.The members were very dedicated.
I've been to Malta and Irland a number of times. Neither country is very large and size does matter , (just read the adds). I want a MLA who's office is within walking distance, not drive all day to get there.

BustaGrill said...


I keep hearing this fear-mongering argument against STV - that politicians will no longer be present in the community...etc.

Reality check: Politicians will still be politicians. Those who are not present to the needs of a large proportion of their constituents will not be re-elected.

I think STV is likely to INCREASE the focus that MLAs put on local issues. Because of the multimember districts, MLAs would be in competition with each other to maintain the favour of voters throughout their terms in office, not just at election time. And even if you did have to "drive all day" to see your MLA, what good is it if you didn't vote for them, they don't represent your politics, and they're more interested in following the party line than looking out for your needs?

Ken Bregman said...

BC-STV is a proposal by Nick Loenen which he managed to get past the Citizen’s Assembly on Electoral Reform by being in the driver’s seat. BC- STV is no different than the preferential-plus system he presented to the Assembly. Nick Loenen was motivated by the fact that the NDP won two consecutive majorities while having less than 40% of the popular vote. Nick Loenen states emphatically in bold print that: “What is important is that the number of multi and single-seat ridings not be altered, for that would affect how proportional the system is.” The most important feature of BC-STV as far as Nick Loenen is concerned is not STV but multimember ridings. His arguments in favour of this system are skewed by his bias, and he makes some blatant errors of logic. This is not a non-partisan issue but is clearly driven by a specific agenda. It then comes as no surprise that the Liberal government has given this issue another chance.
The information on Nick Loenen is taken from the document available on the internet called “ Submission to the Citizens Assembly on Electoral Reform “, December 2003.

Introduction of STV in single member ridings (or preferential voting, or instant runoff voting) can improve our political system but is ignored by Nick Loenen and his Citizen’s Assembly because it does not meet his partisan objective. Nick Loenen and his supporters have simply sold his proposal to the assembly through the control of the agenda.

Ken Bregman said...

Hi Bill,

Let me just clarify a few points regarding my previous e-mail without trying to stray too much from the current debate on BC-STV.

As far as terminology regarding electoral systems, Wikipedia has a good article under “Instant-Runoff Voting”. More information is also available under the article “Preferential Voting”. These articles should be helpful in evaluating the use of various electoral systems around the world. For example, single-winner-STV, preferential-ballot, or instant-runoff-voting is used in Australia to elect the House of Representatives, ie. the legislature, while the Senate is elected by multimember-STV featuring above the line and below the line voting.

Under the existing system in BC, the opposition party has no voting power to affect decision making due to the two party system giving one party a majority; their role is chiefly to raise issues that they feel the government is ignoring or to expose policies that may be detrimental to particular groups in BC. They carry concerns from the constituents back to the legislature. While not having access to the legislature, minority parties can be engaged in these activities, today usually in the form of non-profit organizations. Since these organizations face fund raising obstacles that detract from their work on issues it is beneficial for them to have access to a more efficient form of fundraising. In practice, this is sometimes actually provided by the government in the form of grants. However, these organizations then have little accountability and it becomes uncertain when their funds should be withdrawn, or which organizations should be eligible for grants.

I regret mentioning Chretien and Bill C-24, 2003 (Political Financing Act). While I suggested the per-vote funding I am not referring to the contents of the entire act; there are many differences. What I was suggesting was funding for candidates (and their party) within a single constituency. The second difference would be only to fund candidates who did not get elected. MLAs who do get elected already have access to a salary, an expense account and a pension. The third difference would be that the party or candidate only needs to get 1,000 votes (about 5%) within his own riding not 5% across the entire region (BC in this case). The fourth difference is that my suggested party funding would not preclude other forms of financing such as corporate or union financing.

The overall point is that BC-STV while in theory would force minority parties in the legislature to work together and come to an agreement on issues and thus make government more transparent and accessible, in practice this may not be the result. The loss of single member constituencies has unintended consequences that are detrimental to the part of the political system that is currently functioning properly.

Single-Runoff-voting, single-winner-STV, or Preferential-Voting can improve on the system that we have without cannibalizing what is good about the current system. This opinion is based on the analysis of the political process, not on the abstract notion that “proportional representation” is good.

Do you think Preferential Voting can improve the electoral/political process in BC? There is no evidence in the studies or reports that BC-STV will do this, except that it will create a legislature where the seats are distributed in a way that reflects the proportion of the vote for each “major” party.

DPL said...

So you drive all day to see a person at a constituency office and you have a problem. They don't ask you who you voted for because a constituency office is funded by all tax payers.So must be apolitical The staffer might be a big supporter of the MLA's party but doesn't talk about it unless she or he wants to get reported. The assumption that your one of many MLA's will really sort things out is a bit of a idea but not always that real. You appear to have the idea that the six or so MLA's in a super riding are going to fight each other for one tax payers cause? The work is done in committees and sometimes in question period. Heck they will so busy covering the large areas they might really not have time to spend a lot of time with one person. My MP spends a lot of time travelling between Ottawa and Victoria as do other MP's. It's long haul each week. Maybe sometimes an elected person would like a day off. Voting STV is not going to get the undivided attention from somebody who still has party affiliation no matter what the wistful thinkers think.

My God, I represented around 35 000 people for years, and never got past a ADM's ear.NOt officially that is. The MLA's have a large number of citizens in their ridings, can't meet them all, so why do we think by making the riding massive, and shoving in around six MLA's that maybe, just maybe our chosen one will have time for us to bend her or his ear, on a issues that one of us really really wants to be changed.That is, if our chosen one actually got elected.
Until a better alternative to the present voting system comes along, sorry but this one will have to do. Wasn't it Churchill that said in effect democracy sucks but what's the alternative. The voice of the majority always wins.So having a MLA on side doesn't mean your wishes will come true. You want a better deal well I wish you luck. The first vote on STV was high, but a lot of folks voted for it not necessarily because they understood it that well, but were tired of seeing King Gordo holding such a massive majority, I won't put money on the STV supporters getting near the numbers of last time. And yes if Gordo hadn't set the bar that high we would be preparing to vote on a riding half the size of Vancouver Island. Would it bring in more voters? well I really doubt it. People vote for people they are pretty sure arn't going to make the cut, but still vote

Ken Bregman said...

The idea of singe member STV or alternative votes, instant runoff in constituencies was proposed by Adrienne Carr and Doug Morrison at the Citizen’s Assembly, but was apparently ignored. Their submissions can be found by using the search engine found at the following link:


Their documents are categorized as Morrison 0834 and Carr 0635. These proposals are able to achieve proportionality while at the same time retaining and even improving upon our constituency system. Unlike BC-STV constituency size will only increase marginally and will continue to be single member. A more detailed proposal allowed smaller constituencies with more in remote areas but these members only having fractional votes (such as is done in the GVRD currently). A number of other members also made submissions proposing only the Alternative Vote. The total list of submissions can be found on the Submissionlongcopy document. These do not achieve proportionality but were felt to improve the electoral process. For example FLAVEL 0644 by Dave Flavell.

Somehow these sound ideas were pushed aside for a faulty BC-STV. Why?